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Reading North by South

On Latin American Literature, Culture, and Politics

1995
Author:

Neil Larsen

Reading North by South

Concerned with misleading interpretations of literature and culture that dominate Latin American studies, Larsen proposes the need for a freshly conceived historical materialist approach to Latin American texts and cultural practices. He provides insightful commentaries on political discourses, cultural events, films, and literary texts, as he draws upon a wide diversity of texts written in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Of particular interest is Larsen's discussion of writings from the Caribbean, an area that is not frequently included in Latin American studies.

Concerned with misleading interpretations of literature and culture that dominate Latin American studies, Larsen proposes the need for a freshly conceived historical materialist approach to Latin American texts and cultural practices. He provides insightful commentaries on political discourses, cultural events, films, and literary texts, as he draws upon a wide diversity of texts written in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Of particular interest is Larsen's discussion of writings from the Caribbean, an area that is not frequently included in Latin American studies.

“It would be nearly impossible to find a scholar working in this country who has the competence of Larsen in dealing with the very complex, political, cultural, and literary processes taking place in Latin America. Larsen's familiarity with these issues is, to say the least, simply astounding.” Jaime Concha, University of California, San Diego

Neil Larsen is concerned with misleading interpretations of literature and culture that dominate Latin American studies in North America. In Reading North by South he attempts to correct the distorted views that have prevailed by proposing the need for a freshly conceived historical materialist approach to Latin American texts and cultural practices.

Reading North by South opens with reflections on how North America has read Latin America since the advent of popular fiction from authors like Cortázar and García Márquez. Larsen argues that the North American academy tends to interpret Latin American texts through a postmodern lens of cultural politics that ignores historical realism, and he contends that more attention needs to be paid to historical and class issues. He provides insightful commentaries on political discourses, cultural events, films, and literary texts, and maintains that the canonization of the modernist aesthetic in the United States has resulted in a marginalization of writers and writing that reflect the historical realities of Latin American politics.

As it analyzes important points of debate within and outside of Latin American studies, Reading North by South draws upon a wide diversity of texts written in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Of particular interest is Larsen's discussion of writings from the Caribbean, an area that is not frequently included in Latin American studies. Reading North by South will lead readers to question the expectations and preconceptions that inform their readings of Latin American literature.

Neil Larsen is associate professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Northeastern University. He is the author of Modernism and Hegemony: A Materialist Critique of Aesthetic Agencies (Minnesota, 1990), and editor of The Discourse of Power: Culture, Hegemony, and the Authoritarian State in Latin America (1983).

Reading North by South

Neil Larsen is a Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at the University of California Davis. He also works and writes extensively in the areas of Latin American literature, postcolonial studies, and general literary and critical theory.

Reading North by South

“It would be nearly impossible to find a scholar working in this country who has the competence of Larsen in dealing with the very complex, political, cultural, and literary processes taking place in Latin America. Larsen's familiarity with these issues is, to say the least, simply astounding.” Jaime Concha, University of California, San Diego

“This is exceptional work.” -British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America, the Caribbean, Portugal and Spain